In case you haven’t seen the most recent news from London, there has been a huge tower block fire with almost the entire building destroyed. The fire ripped from bottom to top within a very short amount of time. The emergency services were there in minutes, but it was an uncontrollable furnace within moments. There are hundreds of people who have been left homeless and with only the clothes they were wearing when they escaped. And most tragically of all, there are many who were either killed or are still missing. It is the stuff of nightmares.
There is much speculation already about the exact cause of the fire and how it was able to spread so quickly. I’m not going to discuss any of that. I don’t know. I won’t pretend to know.
However, there is one thing I do know. We live in a tower block. And we are wholly, scarily, unprepared for a similar emergency situation. Are you?
Below you will find some practical advice on how to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of a fire. I hope you find it useful.
Make An Escape Plan
Sounds obvious now doesn’t it? But do you know where the emergency exits are from your building? Where are the stairs? How easily and quickly can you access them? The lifts will be out of action remember, so prepare for the walk down. If you have young children or elderly people living with you have you considered how to move the whole family to safety? Is everybody aware of the escape plan and what to do in an emergency? This is a worst case scenario, but if kept up to date and communicated with the family it could save your lives.
The UK Fire Service offers free advice on making an effective escape plan here
Familiarise Yourself With Fire
In an emergency situation there is no doubt about it- fire is fire and you should evacuate as quickly and as safely as possible. However, did you know that there are different classifications given to fires depending on the cause? This information, if available, can be vital in ensuring the fire is extinguished correctly. So if you know what caused the fire, or what is burning, pass that information to the emergency services as soon as possible. It will aid them in fighting the fire, and it could save your property and lives. Please note that there are some differences between classifications depending on the region you are in, so if in any doubt leave it to the emergency services to determine.
Read more about the classifications of fire in the UK here
Read more about the classification of fire in Singapore here
Raise The Alarm
According the to the UK Fire Service you are twice as likely to die in a house fire where there are no smoke alarms than in a house that does. Twice as likely. I’m writing this knowing full well that our apartment in Singapore does not have smoke alarms. Yet. Alarms can be purchased and fitted relatively cheaply, and the maintenance on them is minimal. So I mean, really they’re a no brainer.
Learn about the different alarms here
Purchase alarms from a UK based retailer here
Purchase alarms from a Singapore based retailer here
Know Where You Live
In an emergency situation, where do you go? If you live in an apartment development do you know what the protocol is? Are there fire extinguishers, and where? How do you raise the alarm- to the emergency services directly or via the complex security? Who do you contact if you don’t see your neighbour’s? Is anyone looking out for you? It’s not exactly cheerful to have to think about, but knowing what to do and where to go in an emergency will keep you safer.
Other Useful Information
Fire safety in the home (downloadable leaflet)
Fire safety in shared or rented accommodation (downloadable leaflet)
Frances the Firefly (downloadable children’s story about the dangers of fire)
Singapore fire hazard reporting hotline (+65) 1800 280 0000
UK dial 999 or 112
Singapore dial 995 (999 for police)